Cholera morbus may be caused by the ingestion of indigestible foods or improper drink, such as polluted water, or water or beer drunk in large quantity after long-continued thirst, or chilling after excessive exercise and perspiration. An attack may be excited by unripe fruit and vegetables, such as green apples, watermelons, cucumbers, or nuts.

Dietetic Treatment

The patient should be kept quiet in bed, well covered, and in severe cases it may be advisable to give no food for the first twenty-four hours, after which the diet should be very light, consisting of meat broth or of pancreatinised milk with lime water in the proportion of one third of the latter, given alone or with a little boiled rice or milk toast. Brandy and soda or champagne may be prescribed. The desire to drink water constantly should be restrained, as it tends to keep the contents of the intestine too fluid and increases the diarrhoea. Thirst may be relieved by cracked ice, very weak cold tea without sugar, or oatmeal water. When the patient is first seen, if there is evidence of accumulation of irritating food in the intestine which has not been wholly eliminated by the diarrhoea, it is advisable to evacuate the bowel with a dose of castor oil or salts.

The following day, if diarrhoea and vomiting have ceased, the diet may be increased slowly; otherwise it should be still restricted to broths and milk. Among the foods which may be first allowed are a soft-cooked egg, raw oysters, scraped beef with soda crackers or toast, and well-boiled rice. If the attack has lasted but a day or two, the patient may soon return to his normal diet; but if it has been protracted, or if he has been much weakened by it, he must observe caution in eating for several days. The diet for convalescence given on p. 441 may then be followed.